Free Online Language Courses from the Foreign Service Institute

Update: The site is returning an error message right now. Even their forums are down. I'll keep an eye on it through the day and post a note when it comes back up.
(5-1-2010 12:23 GMT -06)
Update: the site is back up. (5-1-2010 7:56pm GMT -06)
The Foreign Service Institute (FSI) teaches foreign languages to the U.S. Government's top agencies and diplomats.

From the site:
"...Welcome to - the home for language courses developed by the Foreign Service Institute. These courses were developed by the United States government and are in the public domain.
"This site is dedicated to making these language courses freely available in an electronic format. This site is not affiliated in any way with any government entity; it is an independent, non-profit effort to foster the learning of worldwide languages."

Very interesting site, I looked around for quite a while. The interface is black and white and everything you need is easy to see and get to.
Course materials are in audio and text formats. The materials I tested were in MP3 format for audio, and PDF for text. MP3's are labeled "Tapes" in the listings and PDF's are listed as text. Some languages have more course material than others - for example, Spanish has more material than Sinhala.

One of the things I liked as I was going through course material (in the one foreign language I know a little about) is that much of the information is presented in context. There's background and cultural tidbits that make it more lively and interesting than a textbook. On other words, some of the "here's how it's done, and here's why" that I'm always curious about. Go forth, explore, and have fun. :)

FSI Language Courses

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